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Corps of Engineers, Marathon reach agreement on pipeline project repairs
No permission to complete construction
By Carl Burnett Jr.
Gannett News Service

Contractors have started fixing the problems they have left behind along the Ohio River Pipeline project while Marathon officials are working on developing a comprehensive plan to finish the pipeline.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Corps of Engineers out of the Huntington, W.Va., district and the Marathon group building the pipeline were able to reach an agreement on the interim action plan that allows contractors to fix the problems identified by Corps inspectors.

"We reviewed the interim action plan and approved it," said Rebecca Rutherford, U.S. Corps of Engineers. "We gave them (Ohio River Pipeline) the go-ahead to work on the compliance issues."

Last Wednesday, the Corps suspended their permit -- halting construction of the 149-mile pipeline going from Kenova, W.Va., to Columbus. The suspension followed four citations of non-compliance in the last six months.

Jennifer Robinson, spokeswoman for the pipeline, said the company and the Corps had reached an agreement on Saturday.

"We are commited to providing as much manpower and attention needed to get the job done," Robinson said. "We have 600 contractors back to work today."

In August 2002, the Ohio EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded permits to Marathon Ashland Petroleum to construct the pipeline.

The 14-inch pipeline, called the Cardinal Products Pipeline, is designed to carry as much as 80,000 barrels a day of gasoline and diesel fuel products.

Approximately 29 miles of the pipeline is left to be constructed, said Robinson on Monday. Last Friday the company was estimating there were 40 miles left to complete the pipeline.

Robinson said that in the review process over the weekend, a more accurate figure of the number of miles left to complete the pipeline was obtained.

The interim plan allows Ohio River Pipeline to correct existing problems by cleaning up and repairing the construction right-of-way, said a news release from the Corps. They are also authorized to pad and backfill exposed welded pipe to prevent damage to exposed portions of the pipeline.

The pipeline runs across 363 rivers and streams, 55 wetlands, two state nature preserves, two parks, three state forests, a wildlife area and the southwestern part of Fairfield County.

Robinson said the company started in Columbus going south and from the Ohio River going north and the 29 miles left to be constructed are in Fairfield and Hocking counties.

The Corps did not give the pipeline company permission to start new construction that would finish the line.

The permit suspension will be lifted when the pipeline company submits an acceptable comprehensive plan to the Corps that will ensure the past noncompliance issues do not happen again, said Peggy Noel, spokeswoman for the U.S. Corps' Huntington District.

The district will have inspectors out at the sites making sure the contractors comply with the new interim plan.

"We are in daily contact with them," said Rutherford.

Robinson said the company has formed a joint committee with contractors and company officials to oversee the process of correcting the problems cited by the Corps and in the final stages of the construction.

"We are committed to completing this pipeline," Robinson said. "We have doubled the number of employees and contractors dedicated to compliance issues. We will have 200 employees and contractors whose sole job is making sure we are in compliance."

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